God does not shout to make himself heard, be still and hear God speak.

Silence can be the loudest experience for some of us when our soul is not rested. We tend to busy ourselves with more chatter, more noise until a breakdown happens rather than a breakthrough.
Taking photos while doing a charity drive with my son in the north of Western Australia, enjoying the silence of the Australian outback.

The secular world has mastered the art of avoiding the voice of God or the silent voice of conscience by bending to the idolatry of busyness. The busier we get, the less we hear our conscience, the part of us that protects us from self destruction.

We often try and justify ourselves by achievements rather than being at peace with our conscience.

I often ask individuals that have that burnt out look on their face or hear it in the tone of their voice, “When’s your next holiday?”. Then watch the excuses pour out why they are too busy to take time out or have a lunch break, or leave early or just switch the phone off for a few hours.

I remember the days I lifted myself on such a high Pedestal, thinking that the world would collapse if I wasn’t always at the helm steering every decision. I patted myself on the back more times than I can remember thinking of how much I achieved only to feel the loneliness set in and the chatter increase in my head.

Fact: I became a brilliant manager worshiping achievement, I also became a terrible leader of self governing devaluing the human experience. I treated myself harshly and I treated those around me with contempt because I was addicted to achievement but I was longing for peace and meaning. The more I achieved the louder the chatter became in my head.

Some years ago I made a radical decision to rid myself of the chatter or at least minimise it in my head. We all know the unnecessary dramas that constantly try to creep into our souls. Chatter that is like unwanted weeds in the most beautiful patch of grass.

How did the world ever survive without phones and in recent years the double edged smart phone? I suspect people have become lazier, less creative and far more dependent on instant answers rather than being patient and planning things through.

My great confession

For over fifteen years as a pastor and a further ten years as a shopping centre manager, my phone was on 24/7. In these twenty five years of answering my phone at all hours, rarely if any of these phone calls needed to be answered with the urgency they were made. Being the people pleaser that I was, I became the fool as the worlds most gullible punching bag for other people’s dramas, inconsistencies and melt downs.

These days I try to be present with those in front of me. I want to give my full attention to the task I’m working on, including my sleep or rest time. The only way to achieve this is by controlling the amount of disruptions that look to infiltrate my life, disruptions that eat away the peace that I value so much.

Our soul can make its greatest choices in the silence, the quieter it is the greater the creative juices flow.

Choose this course rather than be at the beck and call of everyone else’s whim.

Constant chatter grinds at the core of our being.

Constant chatter keeps us unnecessary busy, confused and fearful.

Our choice to be silent helps us from overreacting, allows perspective to take place for clear decision making.

Silence stirs up the possibilities, it guards us against the chattering bandits that seek to steal our centre.

If you are interested in a chat, message me on WhatsApp with the button to the right hand bottom corner of this page or email me direct on contact@tomsmilovitis.com and we can arrange to meet if you’re in Perth, Western Australia or zoom chat anywhere in the world.

Who knows what light could come from a chat?

Mentoring in Construction is a tough gig, Gerry was my doorway.

The following is my story and intro into the high rise construction industry in Perth Western Australia through construction Boss, Gerry Hanssen. Gerry has become a friend and mutual agitator to make a difference in the lives of people and the building industry.

‘The job is the boss’ – A term that defines Gerry Hanssen. 

At a distance Gerry can appear disconnected with his outlandish statements and a larger than life attitude.

He can be his worst own enemy fighting his own conscience or as he often likes to put it “The peanut upstairs or God, whatever you like to call him; wakes me up in the middle of the night and won’t leave me alone until I act and do the right thing”

One minute Gerry will talk about a detail relating to construction, the next he would be philosophical, addressing any number of subjects leading back to the fundamentals of the human existence, what makes us tick?

I met Gerry Hanssen in 2012 at a business breakfast hosted by the Swan Chamber of Commerce. There were over hundred local business people and a handful of politicians sitting around big tables and networking as they like to call it.

At this breakfast some individuals were asked to stand up and share their perspective on the economy. I along with Gerry were chosen to speak. I was a centre manager of a number of Perth shopping centres for over ten years. Previous to that I pastored churches and I travelled around the world teaching ethics and purposeful living for over fifteen years. I stood up and reluctantly shared my views on the retail sector of the economy which was unimpressive. Gerry had his moment to speak and he just got in his zone as he often does, something I’ve recognised over the years and I was impressed.

Silk tie days in the commercial world of property management

I was Impressed not because of the content of his address which at times seemed disconnected from his point. I was impressed because Gerry didn’t mind confronting stalemate situations by making statements that would polarise the audience. Gerry likes to call these moments, “You’ve got to throw a grenade in a room to shake things up sometimes”. I remember so clearly, Gerry stood up and gave the audience a one minute lesson on how he builds so efficiently and how he makes his money. I noted some in the audience chuckled like disrespectful children that chuckle behind their parents back when mocking them for repeating the same old stories.

I had never met or heard of Gerry Hanssen to that point and liked his shameless attitude. He definitely spiced up this business breakfast. I have attended so many of these types of events in my career and few were this memorable. A typical network business gathering often consists of the following, you eat, you mix in a cordial conversation and leave with very little gained.

Gerry continued his talk while standing, keeping in mind the theme was on the state of the economy. Gerry goes on after complimenting himself in his one minute address and then turns his attention to the local mayor who was sitting at his table. Without even a blink, Gerry started to berate the mayor for his incompetence. My ears pricked and my eyes focused to see what would happen next. Gerry picked a fight with the local mayor in front of over a 100 professionals and supposed leaders of the community. I waited to see what the mayor would do and to my surprise, he did nothing. I looked around the room, mostly silence except for some childish laughing by a minority but they also did nothing.

I must admit at this point, coming from an ethnic background where tempers, emotions and opinions were always expressed. I pondered what I would do in that setting. Had Gerry berated me in that manner,  I can assure you, silence wouldn’t have been my reaction.

Some may have seen this as an act of bullying on Gerry’s part yet to me it was the contrary. This was a room full of industry leaders yet they all remained silent, especially the mayor. They were happy to let this go as just another personality quirk of Gerry Hanssen rather than an act of leadership. Gerry challenged the mayor to stand up and give an account for himself.

It has been my experience that there comes a time in every persons life where we must stand up for what we believe in or we will fall for anything. Gerry definitely has always had a sense of urgency and acts accordingly regardless of the fallout. As Gerry often says, “You can say sorry later if you’re wrong”. 

After the business breakfast I set out to meet Gerry Hanssen and see if he would be free for a coffee. When I passed him my business card he seemed unimpressed by my stature and professional manner and I felt he was a bit put off by my suit and silk tie but he was open to catch up.

The next morning I visited his head office, again wearing my blue pinstriped suit and another beautiful silk tie. I was keen to talk about leadership after researching him the night before on google. I got myself up to speed with Hanssen Construction as a company and Gerry’s career which appeared to be very colourful.

Gerry greets me in the yard of his head office and takes me into the tea room where all the workers have their tea break. He pulls out a plastic cup and makes himself an instant coffee and asked if I’d like one. It was almost as though Gerry liked me sitting in a dirty construction tea room in my polished shoes and pinstripe suit.

We talked for quite a while about everything from business, politics to religion and the one thing we instantly resonated on was people, we both have a passion to train and inspire the next generation.

I met with Gerry a number of times over the next twelve months and our conversations grew with more focus as we got to know one another.

I was ready to make a huge change in my life and had resigned from a solid career in property to venture out into the unknown wanting to help people. Gerry’s timing was uncanny when he called me with an idea to become the company Chaplain. He allowed me to discover what I could offer his company while I figured out where life was taking me.

Many people have a lot of things to say about Gerry, some good some not so good. As for me, I’m appreciative for his openness and confidence to invest his time, resources and trust in an unknown like me. Gerry would at times even defend me within his company from those that didn’t understand his objective to take on a company Chaplain.

The following are the four things reflective of Gerry’s strengths and what he has to offer as a leader within the construction industry as well as his philanthropic ambitions.

1. He attracts great people because of his willingness to risk and invest in many that society forgets. It’s not a surprise that Hanssen Construction personnel has been represented by over 60 nationalities and counting. He looks for diamonds in the rough in those with academic credentials but no experience, refugees, prisoners, mothers that need flexibility to raise their children just to name a few. Gerry can’t say no to anyone willing to work hard with a great attitude.

2. Gerry is motivated by the objective, he gets the job done which is why he repeatedly says “I’m not the boss, the job is the boss”

3. He thrives on a challenge and solving problems that most would crumble under. He often would come up with ideas that he says come from God or his subconscious that speaks to him in the middle of the night. While many mock him behind his back for his cockiness, they also rely on him to come through when they are stuck.

4. Gerry isn’t motivated by the trappings of materialism, he is motivated when others succeed, when the underdog wins. He has this addiction to see people achieve when society says they can’t. He would often say “I help others because I’m selfish, it makes me feel good” 

Gerry has picked a vocation in life that has to be one of the most fulfilling vocations one could ever pick. He builds people that build buildings and he is happiest when he’s in the thick of it with his people.

A mutual friend of Gerry’s once said to me, “Gerry has his annoying attributes and as annoying as they are, Gerry is the one person I’d have with me in the trenches, because with him you know you’ll have a good chance to win the fight”

All the above doesn’t mean I fully endorse everything Gerry Hanssen says or how he acts, Gerry can answer for himself as we should all aspire to do in life.

Photo taken in December 2016 promoting Good Mental Health, Suicide Awareness and supporting our friends in dark times. Taken in Langley Park, Perth Western Australia with some of the Hanssen Crew in front of their projects.

Perhaps you are interested in growing your mentoring or leadership skills?

If you are interested in a chat, message me on WhatsApp with the button to the right hand bottom corner of this page or email me direct on contact@tomsmilovitis.com and we can arrange to meet if you’re in Perth, Western Australia or zoom chat anywhere in the world.

Who knows what light could come from a chat?

The razor edge of authority

Authority is likened to the razor edge of a surgeons scalpel and the two razor edges of a warriors sword.

The scalpel- Knowing when to use the scalpel by mentoring others and surgically removing the cancers that eat away at a persons life.

The two edged sword – Knowing when to strategically attack when the threat of an enemy approaches.

The inexperienced leader will often use a scalpel in the battle field and the two edged sword trying to remove a cancer on the operating bed.

We are forever at the beck & call of mastering the sharpness of leadership swapping between scalpel & sword accordingly.

The outcome of such authority is evident – Heal & protect those we lead.

If you are interested in a chat, message me on WhatsApp with the button to the right hand bottom corner of this page or email me direct on contact@tomsmilovitis.com and we can arrange to meet if you’re in Perth, Western Australia or zoom chat anywhere in the world.

Who knows what light could come from a chat?

run for a friend ;

Run for a friend ; is an idea that was fostered out of a tragedy when my youngest daughter shared that a close friend of hers took her own life. My daughter and I discussed how we can make Beth’s short-lived life count and decided to launch ‘run for a friend ;’. The semicolon has become symbolic of suicide survivors, meaning individuals put a pause in their life instead of a full stop in their darkest moments. We want to encourage individuals to do the same, take a pause while we back them for a season.

Saving one life matters.

For Beth, may your short life help others that struggle with Mental Health

‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that really matter’ Martin Luther 1483 – 1546

My son and I undertook a 3500km Charity drive over three days to Port Hedland and back to Perth on the 9th of December 2016 to create awareness of Mental Health issues in Construction, Mining, Government, Small Business and Not for profits… We went inland through Newman to Port Hedland and on the coastal road back to Perth.

Mental Illness and the looming threat of suicide is no respecter of person and to believe we are immune from its debilitating effects is both deceptive and entrapping.

DESERT MAN

DESERT MAN

Day 1 – A trip in unfamiliar territory & small compromises along the way that become the foothold

We used my car for the trip, a 2003 FPV GT, a dream car I’ve had for years and one that has been treated with absolute care since the day I was fortunate enough to buy it. The GT has never been pushed to its limits but this Charity Drive was going to reveal what was under the hood. The first day we drove inland through country towns, communities for 11 hours till we reached Newman, Sunrise to Sunset. We made our first compromise a few hours into the drive, we couldn’t buy 98 octane petrol, we had to settle for 95 unleaded fuel. It was very evident High Performance Vehicles don’t make this road trip often. The further North you get and into the desert you could only purchase Diesel & God forbid, 91 unleaded petrol.

‘When that opportunity presents itself and we set out to achieve great things, we often underestimate that we are not quite prepared for the compromises that we make along the journey as we hope to finish strong.’

Even the most disciplined of people who have had years of uninterrupted good health, be it Mental or Physical health, it’s these very individuals that get tempted to make small compromises along the way. The further we get up the success ladder ; the compromises become justified and endorsed in the delusional mind that sees this to be part of the journey. The first taste of drugs that we believe helps us to continue our life journey, or the self-medicating of alcohol beyond just relaxing or social interactions now numbs the pain we are beginning to feel about life.

This is also true of Business or any other noble enterprise, the temptation to drift off course from fundamental ethics & values to the unchartered fuels that pollute the integrity of the enterprise are ever-present. As a Chaplain that is always vested in social capital I believe leaders ought to take stock and recognise that their decisions have a ripple effect way beyond the board room. I am the guiltiest of them all.

Day 2 – When we accept that we have compromised in one area of life and we still function quite well we begin to challenge other areas of life.

On the second day 10th December we drove only 7 hours, from Newman to Port Hedland, the GT performed quite well even with the lower grade fuel. The roads are open, wide and built for Road-Trains towing up to four trailers at a time, Road Beasts that could be heard a mile away. These roads were perfect for the GT (Grand Toure) pulling 380HP at the rear wheel. It was the perfect setting, open road, a Road Train to pass and a taco that has no redline which apparently means you can’t blow this motor up. I looked at my son, smiled and tramped it as they used to call it back in the 70s. The GT didn’t disappoint kicking back into third gear opening up 8 stainless steel headers echoing a roaring lion sound in the desert. Yes indeed the motor didn’t blow up and we even impressed a bored Road Train driver or two along the way.

‘That moment we feel unstoppable is the beginnings of delusion we concoct in the mind’.

Human beings have a tendency to push themselves taking presumptuous risks to see what they are capable of; not always comprehending the real danger they pose to themselves and others along the way for the sake of achievement. We fight for the wrong things; we exhaust ourselves with shallow endeavours at the cost of meaning and purpose.

‘With one compromise after another and one achievement after another we tend to devalue life to achievements and materialism.’

We find ourselves repeating behaviours that assist in the appearance of success while we supress deep concerns of hidden addictions, compromises and other destructive behaviour. The temptation to overstep boundaries for expediency become normal practice as the world of delusion broadens, we become the victims of our own success. The fallout is inevitable, the marriage is on a slippery slope, the children become estranged, close friends can’t be trusted and yet we can’t connect the simple dots that got us to this point. We simply purchase a new toy or continue with our substance abuse and blame circumstances, other people for the bad luck in our lives, after all we have reached the heights of the gods, and we are unstoppable.

Day 3 – When we experience our capabilities what’s left?, Endurance, How long can we keep going without stopping?

I woke up Sunday morning at 12:30am after four hours sleep and I knocked on my sons motel room door waking him up and suggested we leave at 1am and drive straight home. My son looked at me half asleep saying “It’s the middle of the night?, ok let’s do it!”

I’ve been advised that we shouldn’t drive at night or at dawn because all the animals come out to feed and that’s when most of the roadkill happens. I’ve also been advised that we shouldn’t drive 18 hours straight in the desert. The advice was noted, did I listen? No.

I did however stick to the speed limit and was very diligent looking out for the kangaroos during the darkest hours of the night with one real near miss, my son and both kangaroo and I were scared as hell as the GT breaks were slammed without skidding. After that near miss I started seeing kangaroos and other beasts in my imagination wanting to jump out at us and be the next roadkill for the desert birds breakfast. The fear didn’t stop us from carrying on our 18 hour drive. We just stopped for fuel, food and toilet all the way, as you can imagine the boredom sets in. After about 12 hours of driving I started getting weary and challenged to keep going or simply ask my son to take the wheel for a couple of hours. Part of me felt disappointed that I didn’t drive all the way like a did years earlier on my own driving back from the Nullarbor. This was different; I wasn’t going to endanger my son’s life. It was great to see him take the wheels of the GT and enjoy the same thrills I experienced when overtaking Road Trains, the headers didn’t disappoint as the sound of the Boss motor continued to raw hour after hour. After feeling refreshed within a couple of hours I took the wheel again to finish our long journey. The GT had been going nonstop from 1am, at about 5pm I was overtaking truck after truck in typical fashion kicking it back to third gear and without notice the gearbox went limp, the GT was stuck on third gear.

What have I done to this beautiful car?

I kept driving for a while and the thought came to my mind, “That’s the price of pushing things to their limits”. If I stopped the car completely it may not go into gear, if I kept driving it as it I may blow the motor with 3 hours of driving to go. After my son did a google search he suggested that the gearbox went into limp mode to protect itself. We stopped the car in the middle of a wildflower patch on the side of the road hoping the gearbox would reset itself. I restarted the car, fingers crossed and a silent prayer and the car went back to normal. It was right there I regained a new respect for this beautiful car that I had for years,

IMG_0360

‘The intervention mechanism in the gearbox was designed for people like me that don’t know when enough is enough’.

We arrived home safely after 18 hours on the road and the GT was washed and detailed a couple of days later with no expense spared to bring it back to showroom condition and filled with the 98 Octane fuel it was designed for. I assure you it will be treated from here on with the respect it deserves. I now know what the GT is capable of, I always knew, I just had to see for myself.

All too often we don’t know how to stop unless an intervention takes place, an intervention can be the very thing that can reset a person’s life again in the right direction. A rightly timed intervention can be the opportunity to get off the merry-go-round of addictions, failed relationships, self-abuse and great loss. As a Chaplain I get to hear stories of great-hearted people from all walks of life finding themselves lost, ashamed and broken. They all have great capabilities, they all have a desire to love and be loved and few survive the third day of life which is the endurance and finishing strong. I’d be one of these people if it wasn’t for my best friend, my wife. She is that one person with character to live by the courage of her conviction and a heart filled with love to break into my life with a desire to stop me from self-destruction. In many ways that’s what my vocation in life is like as a Chaplain, to intervene on behalf of someone else that can’t see the wood from the trees in their own life. Most interventions don’t have a lasting effect because it’s not done in love but rather out of exposure without redemption in mind.

‘This drive was to create an awareness that much of Mental Health issues are preventative and hope is within our reach if we speak up. To be completely honest the greatest problem is that those that need the greatest help often are the least to speak out. Again I am the guiltiest of them all.’

I find it hard to express the things that I saw and felt in the mining towns, the look of desperation in the eyes of the people, the drug deal that took place right before our eyes, those acting out on drugs at 4 am at a Karratha service station. Knowing that billions of dollars are being extracted from the ground in places like Port Hedland, you’d think you were visiting a third world by looking at the conditions of services and the state of the housing. I’m a proud Australian but this 3 day drive made me question much of my pride when so many people are being mentally left behind.

Run for a friend ; is a very simple idea. It is about caring for one person at a time, it’s about having someone’s back when they are at their lowest point. It’s about intervening for someone we claim to love.

‘Moving forward I encourage each one of us to be committed to the idea that charity starts in the home and loving our spouse, children, family and close friends by being present is the greatest gift we can give to anyone’.

I want to pay a special note of appreciation to Gerry Hanssen, Managing Director of Hanssen Construction and some of his leading staff for their Mental Health initiatives and support hoping to make a difference in one person’s life. They paid for 200 High Vis vests to be printed with Run for a friend ; and we took the attached photo on Langley Park, Perth opposite some of the Hanssen Buildings built on Terrace road. Gerry Hanssen has also given me great freedom within his company over the last three years as a Chaplain to be available and intervene wherever the need arose without any restrictions. I’m also grateful for the many private sponsors that support Run for a friend ; and they know who they are. The second picture attached was the highlight of my journey, to be part of nature that was here before me and will be here well after I leave this beautiful world’

Gerry Hanssen has a great saying “When you know what you don’t want, the rest is easy” unfortunately too many of us go to great lengths to find out what we really don’t want, but that’s life.

BROJ0171 (1)

If you are interested in a chat, message me on WhatsApp with the button to the right hand bottom corner of this page or email me direct on contact@tomsmilovitis.com  and we can arrange to meet if you’re in Perth, Western Australia or zoom chat anywhere in the world.

Who knows what light could come from a chat?

I pray you go through life with minimal regrets. 

I’ve thought of ten standout life regrets that have helped define my new found passion and renewal of life. They are forever forging convictions and attitudes in me like solid foundations to build an even greater life. I walk through life on purpose, a man on a mission that will not be deterred.

I’ve been very fortunate to achieve everything I’ve imagined (few could claim such ambition) and I’m confident I’ll continue to achieve my ongoing crazy dreams. Paradoxically, my life achievements have not been the greatest source of life satisfaction. I believe it’s the overcoming unhealthy aspects of ego and learning from my regrets.

Have I arrived? God no!, it seems life truly does begin when we have exhausted our selves, figuring out what we don’t want out of life.

As I’m learning to be kinder to myself, I look for diamonds in the rough, starting with my family, extending it also to whosoever. I practice one of the oldest truths that brings long lasting meaning. ‘Loving my neighbour

My 10 life regrets 

1. Not giving my wife the wedding she deserved (I can’t begin to explain, but I got everything I wanted, to my shame)

2. Not respecting my wife enough in at least the first decade, perhaps longer of our marriage (I’m getting there, 35 years later)

3. Not being there for my son’s birth (What was I thinking being 3000km away)

4. Not leaving what became a toxic religious cult that I was in for twenty one years. I should have left it at least five years before I did. (Addicted to false success until good conscience gave way)

5. Not letting my kids know how much I struggled with the black dog (Despair) for many years, on the inside. By default I gave them a false impression of what strength and success looked like (I thought I was meant to look strong at all times, impossible)

6. Not harnessing in my early years of ambition to succeed at all cost (the end doesn’t always justify the means)

7. Not obeying my conscience as much as I should have (I’m getting better at obeying the older I get, God gives me no options)

8. Not appreciating enough how fortunate I am despite my dumb decisions (I’m definitely waking up to this big time daily)

9. Not recognising the value of honouring my mother and father earlier (I made up for it with my mother, thank God)

10. Not investing in google (Humour and sarcasm, I’ve always kept sharp)

I pray you go through life with minimal regrets and with the regrets you do have, that they transform you into a wholesome loving person.

If this message resonates with you, know there is hope of absolute renewal and your best days are ahead of you.

If you are interested in a chat, message me on WhatsApp with the button to the right hand bottom corner of this page or email me direct on contact@tomsmilovitis.com and we can arrange to meet if you’re in Perth, Western Australia or zoom chat anywhere in the world.

Who knows what light could come from a chat?

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